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PARENTS SKEPTICAL OF TV RATINGS : MORE SPECIFIC GUIDES ON LANGUAGE, SEX SOUGHT.

Byline: Keith Marder Daily News Staff Writer

Parents in the San Fernando Valley apparently are not confident using the industry's television ratings for children, saying they'd rather monitor shows themselves or have access to a system with more specific information they could trust.

The ratings are being used by television networks and cable stations on a trial basis, pending a congressional hearing Thursday.

``I haven't found it very helpful. I need more information,'' said Maria Clemente of Woodland Hills. ``I need to know if it's for language or sexual situations.

``I have a 12-year-old girl, and I've been letting her watch TV-14, but I have to watch it with her. It doesn't seem consistent. I think if I had a younger child it would help me, but we're at a questionable age.''

Laura Haberkorn of Reseda, who has children ages 1, 9, and 11, said she does not usually use the ratings, but rather looks in on what her children are watching. Also, they self-police, which she finds more effective than using ratings.

``They like to watch `The Simpsons,' '' Haberkorn said, but added that she does not want her kids to watch the segments of the show with the violent and gory `Itchy and Scratchy' cartoons. ``They know better. They know to turn the channel if that's on.''

Haberkorn said she found the ratings inadequate for a recent episode of the new NBC sitcom ``Chicago Sons,'' which earned a TV-PG.

``I don't know if a 10-year-old boy should be watching that,'' Haberkorn said. ``A guy jumps on a girl with her legs apart and he is lying on top of her. That happened two times in 15 minutes. I guess some parents are more liberal than I am.''

Another critic of the system is Ellen Eckerd of Winnetka, a parent of a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old daughter.

``I use them,'' said Eckerd, who is the director of the Parent's Community Resource Center at Sutter Middle School, ``but there's still a lot to be done.''

Eckerd said she favors a system like the one used on premium cable stations such as HBO and Showtime; a show or movie will receive a rating, and then the reason, be it violence, nudity or language, is also offered.

``I still think they are showing children way too much,'' she said. ``It gives them too many ideas, which is sad. We usually watch it together. I am very lucky.''

Eckerd said that television content and the less-than-perfect ratings system have been a source of discussion for other parents she knows.

Alison Simonoff of Chatsworth, co-president of The Lawrence Middle School PTSA, said she trusts her kids, ages 11 and 13, to make their own decisions.

``I'm not much of a watchdog,'' she said. ``I don't think the kids really want to watch bizarre things. My kids don't want to watch `NYPD Blue.' My kids like comedy and sports. If there was something that was being advertised and I thought wouldn't be good, like one of these things on Fox with animals eating each other, I wouldn't tell them not to watch it. That would make them want to watch it even more. They'd rather watch a sports game or `Sabrina the Teenage Witch' or a game.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Sydney Sterk, left, and Chris and Mallory Simonoff watch ``Beverly Hills 90210'' while their mom, Alison Simonoff, keeps tabs on the show's content.

David R. Crane/Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 22, 1997
Words:574
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